Today I’m delighted to feature fellow East Yorkshire lass and resident of my home town Sharon Booth. Sharon is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She writes uplifting women’s fiction — “love, laughter, and happy ever after”.
Sharon grew up in the East Yorkshire town of Hessle, and now lives in neighbouring Kingston-upon-Hull with her husband and their daft-as-a-brush German Shepherd dog.
Since giving up her admin job at a medical practice, she spends a lot of time assuring her family of five children, assorted in-laws and hordes of grandchildren – not to mention a sceptical mother and a contrary hairdresser – that writing full-time IS a “proper” job and she HASN’T taken early retirement.
She has a love/hate relationship with chocolate, adores Doctor Who and Cary Grant movies, and admits to being shamefully prone to all-consuming crushes on fictional heroes.
Over to Sharon
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Oh, this is so hard! I love so many songs that it’s cruel to have to choose five! I have a feeling I’d say something entirely different tomorrow, but here’s my answer for today.
The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady. A bit random, I know, but I remember my mum playing the soundtrack album on our old record player in the dining room, and I listened to it over and over again. It always reminds me of home and childhood.
Mr Blue Sky by ELO. Just because it’s a happy, cheerful song that always lifts my spirits and makes me feel good about the world.
Night Fever by the Bee Gees. I was fourteen when this came out and it was the most exciting time of my life. I was experimenting with hair dye and makeup, Saturday Night Fever was the most amazing film I’d ever seen (though how I convinced anyone at the cinema I was eighteen is beyond me) and the pictures of ponies on my walls were being replaced with huge posters of John Travolta. What a brilliant time that was!
Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. I remember taking my vinyl single round to my best friend’s house and we’d put it on her record player and listen to it for hours. Absolutely brilliant.
You’re My Best Friend by Queen. We call this our “holiday song”. When the kids were little, I filmed our holidays, and I even used to stick the camcorder out of the car window and record the journey when we went out for the day. When we watched the tapes, we realised that You’re My Best Friend was playing on the car cassette player every time I filmed, so it was the soundtrack to most of our holiday videos and became a bit of a running joke. We can’t hear it now without remembering those times when the kids were all little and a caravan holiday near Filey felt like the ultimate luxury. I love Queen!
Can I just say that I’ve already thought of another dozen songs that I could include, and I feel really mean now for not choosing them instead.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Books – obviously.
Television. I do love a good cosy crime series!
The internet. I have a love/hate relationship with it, but it would be difficult to manage without it now.
Tea. It’s strange how much I love Yorkshire Tea. When I was younger, I was all about the coffee, but these days I rarely drink it at all. Tea is my fuel.
Glasses. I have three pairs – one for reading, one for the computer, and one for watching television. I have very awkward eyes, plus my arms clearly aren’t long enough, so glasses are essential!
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
You’re not fat! Seriously, I wish I was as “fat” now as I was then. If I hadn’t started dieting, I’d probably still be a size twelve. Take your coat off, girl! It’s August, it’s boiling hot, you don’t have to hide. Get some Vitamin D for goodness’ sake.
Ask your grandparents about their lives and families. Find out as much as you can and write it all down. Ask for photographs. It will save you so much time and frustration later on.
It’s okay that you don’t know what you want to do with your life. Not everyone figures it out and it all worked out just fine in the end.
There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just mixing with people who aren’t meant for you. Find your tribe.
Please, for the love of God, don’t let your mother perm your hair!
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I can’t drive and now I’m way too scared to learn.
I’ve been married three times – to the same man.
I’ve been known to cry at Disney films. Frozen, Tangled … I sobbed all the way through the live action Beauty and the Beast.
I’m addicted to cosy crime programmes and I would love to write a cosy crime series.
I don’t like the taste of alcohol and absolutely hate wine.
Tell us 5 things you’d like to do/achieve.
1. Get a new fitted kitchen (top priority!)
2. Lose the baby weight. Not hopeful since the baby is 38 this year …
3. Learn to drive. I’ve been saying this for years – decades even. My fear of driving is getting worse, so I’m not that hopeful about that one either, but never say never.
4. Have a Kindle bestseller – that is, one of my ebooks in the Kindle top 100. I’ve reached 200 but that’s not close enough.
5. Get all my books into audio and paperback, hopefully within the next year or two. Fingers crossed!
Many thanks for sharing with us today Sharon, it’s always lovely to discover more about the person behind the name. I love that you chose The Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady. As a young girl I was very smitten by Jeremy Brett who played Freddy Eynsford-Hill who sang the song in the film. Tea as fuel is a concept I’m on board with. Come the Zombie apocalypse that’s what I’ll be hoarding! You’re not on your own at crying at Disney films, I’ve never seen Dumbo all the way through and as for Bambi … Romance was certainly meant to be your genre, marrying the same man three times is definitely romantic. I’m also someone who doesn’t like the taste of alcohol and can only drink very sweet wine (essentially one step up from flat lemonade). It’s hard to get people to understand sometimes so I’m glad I’m not on my own. Here’s hoping that new kitchen isn’t too far away.
The Kearton Bay Series
When Eliza Jarvis discovers her property show presenter husband, Harry, has been expanding his portfolio with tabloid darling Melody Bird, her perfect life crumbles around her ears.
With only her three-year-old daughter and a family-sized bag of Maltesers for company, Eliza heads to the North Yorkshire coastal village of Kearton Bay in search of the father she never knew. All she has to go on is his name — Raphael — but in such a small place there can’t be more than one angel, can there?
Gabriel Bailey may have the name of an angel but he’s not feeling very blessed. In fact, the way his life’s been going he doesn’t see how things can get much worse — until Eliza arrives.
As her search takes her deeper into the heart of Gabriel’s family, Eliza begins to realise that she’s in danger of hurting those she cares about deeply. Is her quest worth it? And is the angel she’s seeking really the one she’s meant to find?
Battling two rebellious teenagers and reduced to sleeping on the sofa, after the unexpected arrival of her annoying mother, Rose MacLean is looking for something good to happen in her life.
Flynn Pennington-Rhys is the quiet man of Kearton Bay. Thoughtful, reliable, but a bit of a loner, Flynn is the last person lively Rose expected to fall for. But odd things can happen at a wedding, and a single kiss sets them on a path that neither could have predicted.
Flynn, however, clearly has something he’s not telling her, and when events take an unexpected turn, it seems Rose may not be able to rely on him, after all.
Will the quiet man come through for her? Will her daughters ever sort themselves out? And will Rose ever get her bedroom back from her mother, or is she destined to spend the rest of her life on the sofa?
Lexi Bailey doesn’t do love. Having seen the war zone that was her parents’ marriage, she has no interest in venturing into a relationship, and thinks romance is for fairy tales. As far as she’s concerned, there’s no such thing as happy ever after, and she’s not looking for a handsome prince.
Will Boden-Kean has two great loves: his ancestral home, Kearton Hall, and Lexi Bailey. But the future of the first is in real jeopardy, thanks to his reckless and irresponsible father, and the chances of Lexi seeing him as anything except a good friend seem remote.
While Lexi gazes at the portrait of the Third Earl Kearton, and dreams of finding the treasure that is reputed to be hidden somewhere in the house, Will works hard to turn around the fortunes of his home. When he goes against Lexi’s wishes and employs the most unpopular man in the village, she begins to wonder if he’s under a spell. Will would never upset her. What could possibly have happened to him?
As plans take shape for a grand ball, Lexi’s life is in turmoil. With a secret from Will’s past revealed, a witch who is far too beautiful for Lexi’s peace of mind, and a new enchantress on the scene, things are changing rapidly at Kearton Hall. Add to that a big, bad wolf of a work colleague, a stepmother in denial, and a father who is most definitely up to no good, and it’s no wonder she decides to make a new start somewhere else.
Then she makes a discovery that changes everything — but time is running out for her. Is it too late to find her happy ending? Will Lexi make it to the ball? Will Buttons save the day?
And where on earth did that handsome prince come from?
The Skimmerdale Series
Eden Robinson was living a quiet, if dull, sort of life, until the fateful day her world collided with that of Honey Carmichael, spoilt daughter of seventies’ rock god Cain Carmichael.
Three years later, working for the Carmichaels in their Cotswolds home, Eden is wondering where it all went wrong, and how much worse things can get. A few hours later she gets her answer when, after an ill-judged kind gesture leads to a major mistake and only one escape route, she finds herself agreeing to head up to the Yorkshire Dales to care for the motherless children of sheep farmer, Eliot Harland.
Her summer in Skimmerdale is far from easy, as Eden navigates the supermarket with three young children in tow, confronts her fear of horses, and learns the pecking order in the cake tent at the local show – all while dealing with a double identity, a jealous family friend, and a charming blackmailer.
But as summer draws to a close Eden faces her toughest challenge yet. The man she loves has no idea who she really is, and it seems she’s left it too late to tell him. Can she escape the Honey trap in time, or will this sheep farmer discover he’s had the wool pulled over his eyes?
Emerald Carmichael has always been the black sheep of the family, so she’s not impressed when fate — in the form of her father Cain’s annoying and grossly misdirected generosity — leads her to act as wedding planner to his former employee Eden Robinson.
To add insult to injury, it turns out that Eden’s fiancé is none other than the gorgeous Eliot Harland, the only man Emerald has found attractive for simply ages.
Emerald, however, has plans of her own, and if that means living on a sheep farm in a remote corner of the Yorkshire Dales, while organising the grand wedding for Eden her father demands, she’ll do it. That’s if the happy couple ever make it to the altar, of course …
But Emerald’s not the only one making plans, and as events unfold that could destroy the Harlands’ lives for good, Eliot and Eden are torn apart.
With their family in crisis, and secrets and lies exposed, can peace ever return to Skimmerdale?
The Moorland Heroes Series
Cara Truelove has always been a romantic, burying her head in books and dreaming of being swept off her feet by her very own Brontë hero. When she was a gullible teenager, she believed boyfriend Seth to be a modern-day brooding Heathcliff. Fourteen years later, when Seth has proved to be more like Homer Simpson, Cara vows never to fall in love again, and turns her back on romance for good.
Leaving Seth behind, Cara secures a job as nanny at Moreland Hall on the Yorkshire Moors, but is shocked to discover her new employer is none other than the tall, dark, and disturbingly handsome Mr Rochester.
Her resolve to be more level-headed is soon tested when strange things begin to happen at Moreland Hall. Why is Mr Rochester’s mother hidden away upstairs? What are the strange noises she hears from the attic? Why is the housekeeper so reluctant to leave her on her own? And where is Mr Rochester’s mysterious wife?
As events unfold, Cara knows she must keep a cool head, curb her imagination – and resist Mr Rochester at all costs. After all, one Brontë hero in a lifetime is more than enough for any woman. Two would be downright greedy.
It’s the time of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, but at Carroll’s Confectionery Factory on the North York Moors, the meaning of Christmas seems to have been forgotten. New boss, Kit Carroll, is hardly winning friends with his high-handed attitude, his foolhardy approach to production, and his tight-fisted treatment of the factory’s employees.
Marley Jacobs, his self-styled PA, is determined to make him see the error of his ways, and return the festive spirit to Carroll’s. Unfortunately, the little matter of their previous relationship and Kit’s callous treatment of her when they were teenage sweethearts keeps getting in the way of her good intentions.
With encouragement from co-worker Don, romantic sister Olivia, and — astonishingly — the usually sceptical Great Uncle Charles, Marley decides to save this modern-day Mr Scrooge from himself, despite having no well-meaning ghosts to help her.
But revisiting the past doesn’t just stir things up for Kit. As Marley struggles to deal with bittersweet memories, present-day events take a surprising turn. Can the future be changed, after all?
And is it only Kit who needs saving?
The Home for Christmas Series
When Ellie Jackson’s marriage unexpectedly ends, she and her young son, Jake, seek refuge with Ellie’s cousin, Maddie. But Maddie soon tires of her house guests, including her own boisterous rescue Boxer dog, Baxter.
A trip to the park proves eventful, when Baxter literally bumps into Dylan. Kind, funny, and not-too-shabby in the looks department, Dylan soon wins Ellie and Jake over, and Ellie dares to dream of a happy ending at last.
But as the snow starts to fall and Christmas approaches, Ellie realises time is running out for them. Dylan clearly has a secret that may ruin their happiness, Baxter’s home is in jeopardy, and she has no way of making Jake’s wishes come true.
Must Ellie give up on her dreams, or can Baxter lead her back to happiness?
Light the fire, switch on those Christmas tree lights, curl up with a hot chocolate, and enjoy this heart-warming festive story of love, home, and second chances.
Katy’s driving home for Christmas – except an empty, cold caravan hardly seems like home, and it’s not feeling much like Christmas.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this: a few months ago she had her dream cottage, a loving fiance, and big plans for a perfect wedding. Now she’s in her car, travelling through the snow along dark, country lanes, heading towards a Christmas spent by herself, with nothing more to look forward to than a frozen turkey dinner and a box of Quality Street.
With her friends busy with their guests, her parents on a cruise, and her ex-fiance miles away, the only person Katy is expecting to see at all is Luke, the builder who has been working hard to transform Katy’s cottage before it goes up for sale on the other side of Christmas.
Arriving at last in the Holderness village of Weltringham, she’s disappointed to find both the cottage and the caravan in darkness, and Luke nowhere to be seen. It seems everyone in the world has abandoned her to her gloomy fate.
Is she doomed to have the worst festive season ever, or is someone about to save Katy’s Christmas?
After all, it is the time of miracles …
The Bramblewick Series
Is home a place—or a person?
Anna’s about to leave Bramblewick behind. She’s due to marry her childhood sweetheart in a few weeks, and then she’ll be heading to Kent and a whole new life.
Connor’s a new arrival in Bramblewick. He’s bringing with him a whole lot of baggage, and he’s doubtful that this small village on the Yorkshire Moors is the ideal place for him and his daughter, Gracie.
It’s not easy for Anna, watching Connor move into her family home and take over from her beloved father at the local surgery, but she’s determined to help him settle in and adjust to rural life, so that the villagers get the doctor they deserve.
Connor’s not convinced. This country practice is very different to what he’s used to, and the locals have some strange expectations of their GP. Protective of Gracie and hiding behind self-constructed barriers, Connor struggles to adapt to life in Bramblewick. Can Anna convince him that this is the place where he and Gracie can finally find happiness?
And can she convince herself that leaving Bramblewick is the right move for her?
Christmas has arrived in Bramblewick, along with plenty of snow and festive good cheer. The village is gearing up for the Christmas Eve wedding of popular GP Connor Blake, and much-loved receptionist Anna.
At the Bramblewick Surgery, a new GP, Riley MacDonald, is working alongside Connor, and he’s proving to be highly efficient and organised.
When Nell Williamson, proprietor of Spill the Beans café and bakery in the village, first sets eyes on Riley, it’s love at first sight. Nell has always believed that she would know “the one” when she met him, and she’s convinced that Riley is the man she’s been waiting for.
Riley, on the other hand, is a hardened cynic. Having survived a humiliating broken engagement, he’s keeping well away from relationships, and is confused by Nell’s attentions.
Her every attempt to attract him pushes him further away, convincing her friends she’s on a hiding to nothing, even though he turns into a clumsy mess whenever Nell’s around. Deciding she’s a control freak who should be avoided at all costs, Riley makes a serious error of judgement which could cost her dearly.
As Christmas approaches, best man Riley and bridesmaid Nell are further apart than ever.
Can the two of them reach an understanding before their friends’ big day, or will it be the most awkward wedding in Bramblewick’s history?
Rachel Johnson has returned to her childhood home in Bramblewick, a small village on the North York Moors. Taking up a position as practice nurse at the village surgery, Rachel hopes she can rebuild her own life, and provide a better life for her young son, Sam.
But Folly Farm isn’t what it used to be. Since the death of Rachel’s father, the spark seems to have disappeared from her mother. No longer a working farm, the place seems neglected and sad.
Sam is clearly resentful of the changes in his life and, after a worrying incident at the school, Rachel fears that the move has come too late, Trying to settle into a new job, aware of her mother’s obvious loneliness, and fretting over the state of the farm on top of everything else, her new start isn’t working out as she’d hoped.
Xander North is a successful actor with a lot on his mind and a big decision to make. Bramblewick seems like the perfect place to stay while he contemplates his future.
But Xander has a big heart and a deep love for animals and, somehow, waifs and strays keep landing on his doorstep. Since he’s in a rented cottage, what is he to do with them?
Xander has childhood memories of Folly Farm and wonders if the residents there can help him. But things have changed since he last visited and, despite a warm welcome from the owner, her daughter doesn’t seem so sure of him.
As the summer rolls on, Xander and Rachel both have difficult choices to make. Should they go with their heads or their hearts?
Folly Farm has become the place of second chances for animals, but can it work its magic on two scared people?
Switch on those Christmas tree lights and settle down with a hot chocolate. It’s time for another festive trip to beautiful Bramblewick.
Christmas is approaching once again, but the residents of the little village on the North York Moors are almost too busy to notice.
Receptionist Anna is on maternity leave, awaiting the arrival of her baby, while husband Connor and colleague Riley are busy interviewing candidates for the post of third GP at Bramblewick Surgery.
Izzy, meanwhile, is recovering from a broken relationship by focusing her attention on the primary school Christmas play. But even with the help of fellow teacher, Ash Uttridge, she’s beginning to wonder if she’s taken on more than she can cope with.
The weather’s not the only thing getting chilly, either. Having confided in Anna the real reason for her break-up with her ex-boyfriend, Izzy is hurt when her best friend seems suddenly cold towards her. Has she made a mistake trusting Anna, after all?
As Christmas draws nearer and the snow begins to fall, Izzy and Ash develop a warm and growing attraction. But Ash has real concerns about their relationship and, with Anna judging her so harshly, dare Izzy really tell Ash the truth about herself and risk everything they have built so far?
At Bramblewick Primary School the teachers are preparing for their much-needed break, and Izzy and Ash are busy making wedding plans.
But for their friend and colleague, Jackson Wade, the long summer holiday isn’t so welcome. He’s dreading being alone and is already wondering what he’s going to do with himself until school starts again.
For Dr Abbie Sawdon, the end of term brings a different problem. She’s a single mum with a busy job and three young children to care for. Not only that but she’s just moved into The Gables, a large, rather neglected house on the edge of the village. Her teenage daughter hates it, Abbie’s got no time to work on it, and she’s beginning to wonder if moving to Bramblewick was such a good idea after all.
After mutual friends set Abbie and Jackson up on a blind date, both are adamant that the experience will never be repeated. It’s painfully obvious that they have nothing in common, and Abbie is insulted by Jackson’s less-than-tactful comments regarding her children and home.
But Jackson might just be the answer to Abbie’s problems and, when things reach crisis point at The Gables, she has no choice but to accept his offer of help.
A long and difficult summer lies ahead of them as they negotiate house renovations, boisterous children, lively dogs and a moody teenager. But it’s not all bad, as a christening, an engagement party and a trip to the seaside bring some welcome relief from work. And, as the weeks go by, Jackson and Abbie begin to realise that it’s not just the house that’s in need of tender loving care.
But do some wounds cut too deep to ever heal?
Holly knows something’s not right about her life, but she can’t figure out what it is. Where did it all go wrong? She has a job she enjoys in Bramblewick’s surgery, friends she’s known and loved for years, a surrogate grandmother in her next-door neighbour, Lulu, and a boyfriend she adores.
Yet Holly’s become increasingly unhappy and confused. So much about her life no longer makes sense, and she’s uncertain who she can trust. Are her friends really on her side? Is she still capable of carrying out her job to satisfactory standards? Why does she keep messing things up with Jonathan, the boyfriend who puts up with more than anyone else ever would?
With two weddings to attend and Christmas rapidly approaching, all Holly wants is peace, calm, and an end to the confusion; instead she finds herself facing an impossible choice that makes her worries about being the only fat bridesmaid seem irrelevant. How can she decide between the two people she loves most in the world?
Then there’s Lewis … Newly arrived in the village, calm, easy-going and straightforward, his only vice appears to be his addiction to pear drops. Through him, Holly realises she’s been losing a war she had no idea she was fighting. Can she muster the strength for one final battle?
Maybe all she needs is a little help from her friends …
The Witches of Castle Clair Series
Do you believe in magic?
Sky St Clair doesn’t, and growing up in Castle Clair, a small town renowned for its mystical past and magical legends, she never felt she belonged.
Sky got away from Castle Clair as soon as she could, but when a run of bad luck leaves her homeless and jobless, she has little choice but to accept her sister Star’s invitation to return home for the festive season.
When Star has an accident, Sky finds herself running the family’s magical supplies shop. Wands, crystals, pendulums … really? It’s a tough job when she doesn’t believe in the products she’s selling, but how can she? Magic isn’t real, no matter what her deluded siblings think.
Jethro Richmond doesn’t believe in magic either. In fact, he doesn’t believe in anything much anymore, which is proving to be a bit of a problem for a writer of fantasy novels. With a self-constructed wall around his heart as high as Clair Tower, and his dreams as ruined as the town’s ancient castle, he’s lost all hope of repairing his tattered career. The last thing he needs is to get involved with a family like the St Clairs, and no matter what a certain little black cat seems to want Jethro has no intention of spending any time with Sky or her unusual sisters.
But this is a strange little town and, as the residents prepare to celebrate Christmas, Sky and Jethro might just discover that in Castle Clair, anything is possible. Even magic
The world is full of magic, if you know where to look.
It hasn’t been an easy time for Star St Clair. Her father has heaped disgrace on the family, and the man she loves rejected her when he discovered the truth about her powers. But the St Clair family’s magical heritage goes back centuries, and no one could be prouder of that than Star. Neither her father, nor Benedict Greenwood, will be forgiven.
Fate, however, has a shock in store for her. Not only is her errant father back in town, along with his new fiancée, but her ex has arrived home with a new girlfriend in tow. Maths teacher Elsie is everything Benedict seems to want – bright, steady, normal. How can Star possibly compete with her? Not that she intends to, of course. She is a St Clair, after all, and Benedict won’t get a second chance.
Benedict is an anxious man. Bad enough to discover your girlfriend is, in fact, a witch, but running out on her was probably a big mistake. Who knows what she’s plotting in revenge? Taking Elsie home to meet his grandmother is a test of nerve, and Star’s behaviour doesn’t exactly bring him peace of mind. Just what is she up to?
Star couldn’t be sweeter to Elsie, and even presents her with a bouquet of flowers to welcome her to Castle Clair, but Benedict isn’t fooled. Star is plotting something, and when Elsie suffers from a mysterious ailment, he is convinced that it’s all down to his ex-girlfriend. After all, everyone knows witches can’t be trusted.
But events are about to unfold that will challenge both Star and Benedict, and everything they believe to be true. In an attic room in North Yorkshire and a village hall in Ireland, unpalatable truths must be told, secrets must unfold, and life-changing decisions must be made.
Is forgiveness truly impossible? Are witches really that scary? And can a solution be reached before time, patience, and all the bourbon biscuits run out?
A story of pride, prejudice, and a whole lot of magic …
To Catch a Witch will be published on April 28th 2020 but is available to pre-order now.
It’s three hundred and fifty years since the famous witch’s leap happened in the North Yorkshire town. Riverside Walk is swarming with eager tourists, wanting to pay tribute to the legendary Blaise St Clair. It’s also Christmas Eve, and the family has gathered to celebrate an eventful year, and to look forward to even better times ahead.
But a shock event changes everything, bringing a whole lot of trouble to the door of Castle Lodge.
For something big is happening in Castle Clair. Strangers are arriving, a prophecy is unfolding, a mystery is deepening, a reckoning is coming … and someone’s getting rather too fond of Mrs Greenwood’s baking.
The past is colliding with the present, and the future is in jeopardy. No wonder the High Council of Witches is a bit miffed.
Will the St Clairs have enough strength, courage ~ and chocolate fudge cake ~ to see them through?
Or is this the end of the world as they know it?
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